Garmin Instinct Solar (Instinct 2?) – early leaks

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Garmin Instinct Review
Not THIS Elevate sensor on the new Instinct.

We will see the Garmin Instinct in 2020, my guess would be Q2/Q3 (or 8 July). Despite the merits of the aesthetics of the original Garmin Instinct (reviewed here), it sells well. Thus, it’s no longer surprising that we are seeing Garmin iterate a new version to this popular product only a year or so after the initial launch of the first version.


We’ve known about the existence of the Instinct Instinct Solar for a several months eg it’s listed in my monthly post of ‘every GPS device known to mankind


It does now have the new generation of Garmin’s ELEVATE HR sensor, which makes sense as the Instinct was one of the last devices to have been released with the old sensor type. This new sensor also will bring with it the addition of Pulse Ox and I’ve had it confirmed that we will also see the Instinct’s existing swim features boosted by the oHR being enabled whilst pool/ows swimming – but do NOT expect support for your caching HR strap (HRM-TRI, etc).

Even more excitingly, there are increases to the existing battery life which I initially thought was from the addition of the Sony GPS chip (that’s already almost certainly in the original Instinct) but which are instead from some of the battery tech being rolled down from the Fenix 6, coupled with the addition of SOLAR charging which should add at least a further 10% to all the battery life claims, or at least it will if the sun is shining. In fact, it gives this

— Up To 24 Days/ 54 Days With Solar
— Battery Saver Watch Mode: Up To 56 Days/ Unlimited With Solar
GPS: Up To 30 Hours/ 38 Hours With Solar
— Max. Battery GPS Mode: Up To 70 Hours/ 145 Hours With Solar
— Expedition GPS Activity: Up To 28 Days/ 68 Days With Solar

IIRC the Fenix Solar ‘only’ benefitted from an extra 10% of battery life with the SOLAR but here the INSTINCT seems to add at least 25% in ideal conditions, which means in ‘less than ideal conditions’ some meaningful amounts of juice could still be recharged.

Instinct Solar

Along with the Solar capability will come several minor new screens such as those which indicate the amount of charging that has been gained today.

Perhaps the more major changes linked to Solar will be the addition of new battery management tech which will be needed to achieve the impressively long battery lives that are quoted.

If you remember there was also an Instinct 1 Tactical, it looks like the (limited) tactical functionality from that will also be in the Instinct Solar ie the Solar version is the top-end Instinct with everything in it.

Everything also includes surf and swim profiles, although they are limited in features compared to parallel ones on the Fenix.

via acoustic biker, with thanks

Here’s the Reddit source for the SOLAR info

Instinct 2 Solar is coming with pulse OX from Garmin

There is clearly a market for an outdoors watch that is like a Garmin Fenix…but cheaper. Casio is sniffing around in the space with the WSD-F20 and WSD-F30 but they are coming in too high on price despite having an offering that is different and nuanced from what Garmin offers. Suunto too have tried with the Suunto 7 which is a great and beautiful product but perhaps too expensive for the battery limitations of Wear OS. Coros are there too with perhaps the closest of the contenders for hardware+software that’s similar to the Fenix.

One consequence of the new Instinct Solar is prices of the original Garmin Instinct falling to around and below £/$/Eu200. Which is probably about right for that product but the Instinct Solar is coming in at a hefty £349.99…ouch. That’s a lot of money for a lot of uniquely appreciated looks


Best REI/Wiggle/PMC price is linked to. $/Eu200 £200 and will continue to fall.



Garmin Instinct 2 ☀️ Solar, 2s, First Thoughts


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18 thoughts on “Garmin Instinct Solar (Instinct 2?) – early leaks

  1. Garmin Instinct is not ugly AT ALL. Much to the contrary, there’s an incredible number o people that actually think it looks amazing (myself included). I believe it has been selling well exactly because of its looks and not instead of it. Its style might be “love me or hate me”, but I guess the number of “love-it”s is greater than the number of “hate-it”s.

      1. I like both, but still prefer the Instinct. I have a Fenix 6X not only because of it has WAY more features (connecting to bike power meters for example) but also because with the expense-as-hell-only-fools-like-me-buy-it titanium band (the same that came with one of the versions of garmin’s diving watch) it goes totally under the radar when dressing more formally. Love your site/blog. Keep up the great work!

    1. Personally, I like the nondescript utilitarian look of the black Instinct, but hate the strap. I’ve seen some people switch the strap for NATO/ZULU-style nylon type bands, and it looks like a proper tool. It’s the watch I wish Casio made (because reliability) but never did.

        1. I know about the Casio ProTrek smartwatches. Not a fan of Google’s WearOS. Personally prefer Garmin’s operating system and software implementation, though Garmins (or any other watch, for that matter) don’t hold a candle to G-Shock/ProTrek robustness.

          1. fair comment. What do you think of the MIL standard of robustness that many outdoors devices now show they have passed eg Garmin INSTINCT and , IIRC, the new Suunto 7 and certainly the Casios

          2. @the5krunner
            The problem with the whole MIL-SPEC is that it doesn’t really mean what marketing departments want you to think it means. MIL-SPEC is not a specific performance standard, but simply a process.


            Quoting this from above link: “It is important to note that this document does not impose design or test specifications. Rather, it describes the environmental tailoring process that results in realistic materiel designs and test methods based on materiel system performance requirements.”

            TL;DR – The whole MIL-Spec thing in product marketing has never had a set-in-stone benchmark. It’s all arbitrary. A manufacturer can follow the guidelines and combine various approved/recommended materials, give it a MIL-SPEC “certification”, and have the watch leave the factory without its prototype ever going through drop tests in the test product testing stages.

          3. “without its prototype ever going through drop tests in the test product testing stages” … that bit is surprising

  2. If this appears, it’ll be my first Garmin watch purchase since the 920. I’m awaiting delivery of a GPSMap 66i with InReach right now, and being able to trigger that alarm with a watch would be extremely useful in remote MTB parks and elsewhere. Now all I need is my NZ bank to switch on Garmin Pay!

  3. I’ve owned a Instinct and Samsung and Huawei smartwatch, dumped the 2 and kept the Instinct. You should define what you mean with ugly, Instinct have the best reviews you can read from buyers now.

    Practical watch and would not empty your wallet. Instinct is after all a sportswatch not to be compared to a smartwatch, 2 different type of watch.

    1. i link to my review of Instinct I in the article above. it’s positive.
      beauty is always in the eye of the beholder. you are perfectly entitled to an opposing view.

  4. Casio watch is nice but is too big for my wrist. Garmin Instinct size is best suited on my wrist, not too big or small, the size fits just nice. With the Solar joining it, i will consider get one in the future. I hope they have the black as well, not the tactical, but with the grey functionality.

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